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( East Sussex )
Compact arrow plan design
Architect : George Thomas Hine
Open : July 20th, 1903
Closed : 1994
Information taken from www.countyasylums.com
East Sussex decided to provide a new asylum after a brief period of as principal owners of the Haywards heath asylum. The construction of the new building allowed the county to leave the frequently-overcrowded old asylum to the Brighton authority and take up more extensive facilities at Hellingly.
Designed by prominent asylum architect, George Thomas Hine, Hellingly was to be one of the most advanced county asylum designs at the time of its construction and can be seen as a smaller scale enhancement of ideas employed at the London County Council's Bexley Asylum.
The site, forming part of Park Farm was located to the north-east of Hailsham a short distance from Hellingly village and railway station. The site sloped south and the northern area was bounded by woodland. A minor road was re-routed to maintain the security and privacy of the site.The plan for the land incorporated two driveways – the principal one from the south-west guarded by a lodge and lined with officers residences and the acute hospital, the second from the south was routed via the farm, male farm workers villa and married attendants cottages and was utilised as a service drive.
To the north of the site was placed a chapel and four further villas including another for male working patients, two for female working patients and another for mentally defective children. A small isolation hospital for infectious diseases was placed in the woods to the far north-west of the grounds.The main building was to comprise of the usual core facilities of administrative block to the north, followed by central store, kitchens, recreation hall and assistant medical officer's residence at the southernmost tip. To the west stood the male wards, workshops, boiler house, water tower and maintenance department as well as a goods and engine shed used in connection with the hospital tramway.
The east side of the main building was occupied by the female wards, laundry, sewing room and a nurse's block. All theses areas were linked by an extensive corridor network.The smaller acute hospital, known as Park House enabled such cases to be treated separately and avoided the need for accommodating them within the main asylum. All the principal buildings at Hellingly were of two or three storeys and constructed from red brick, with much use of reconstituted-stone lintels, multiple paned windows, banding, occasional round headed windows and red tiled roofing, with slate used for laundry and works buildings.
The administration building was gothic in styling and essentially an expanded version of that already built at the Hertfordshire County Asylum. The villas and some residences differed in the use of pebble-dashing on the upper levels . The superintendent occupied Daeborough House, later known as Bowhill and the largest of those on the main drive, with its own combined garage/servants cottage. Hellingly was one of many asylums in the south east to accommodate the West Sussex patients displaced from Graylingwell during World War I, causing some overcrowding.
The hospital electric tramway, which ran parallel to the main drive and had provided a passenger service from the railway station and was almost unique amongst hospitals in doing so, was closed in the 1930's except for goods and the passenger car subsequently utilised as a sports pavilion. World War II saw Park House vacated for use by the Canadian military, with patients relocated within the main building. The carriage of goods on the tramway lasted until the conversion from coal-fired power generation to oil at the hospital in 1959 and the former engine shed was adapted as a maintenance department store. Later developments included conversion of the Superintendent's residence to a nurse's home, closure of the farm, construction of Tennyson house and the staff social club.
During the mid 1980's Hellingly was selected as one of five mental hospital sites in the south east to accommodate a medium secure unit, in this case known as Ashen Hill and located east of the main buildings and villas. Despite this, closure of the hospital itself was already progressing and the entire main building was vacated and closed in 1994.
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